Reports to the CRPD Committee on Australia’s lack of Accessible Housing

The following is taken from an update from ANUHD (Australian Network on Universal Housing Design) on Australia’s obligations regarding accessible housing:

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee) (website located here: https://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/crpd/pages/crpdindex.aspx) is the body of independent experts which monitors implementation of the Convention by State Parties.

The CRPD Committee provided a List of Issues for Australia (List of Issues located here: https://aduhdblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/crpd_c_aus_qpr_2-3_e.pdf). With respect to the National Dialogue on Universal Housing Design’s Strategic Plan (Plan located here: https://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/program-services/government-international/national-disability-strategy-initiatives/livable-housing-design/national-dialogue-on-universal-housing-design-strategic-plan) and their 2020 target as a commitment within the 2010-2020 National Disability Strategy, they asked:

“Please provide information on efforts to ensure an adequate supply of accessible housing and on whether the 2020 targets for universal housing design are being met?” (Issue 11)

Report from the Australian Government (located here: https://aduhdblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/ag-reponse-final-sep18.pdf)

In summary:

  • In February 2011, COAG agreed to an aspirational target within the ND Strategy that all new homes meet agreed universal accessibility design standards by 2020.
  • State and territory governments have made progress towards increasing the stock of universal and accessible housing, particularly in relation to public and social housing. For example, the Northern Territory (NT) Department of Housing and Community Development’s Urban Public Housing Design Guidelines require all new urban public housing to meet the silver level rating under the Guidelines*
  • In October 2017, the BMF instructed the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) to undertake a national Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for the inclusion of minimum accessibility standards for housing in the NCC, in consultation with Disability Ministers.

*The report cites the least populated area in Australia, which built less 88 public housing dwellings in 2016-7, as an example of their progress to date.

Report from the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (located here: https://aduhdblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/ag-reponse-final-sep18.pdf)

In summary:

  • The AHRC remains concerned that the 2020 targets for universal housing design will not be met. The use of voluntary measures to increase the supply of accessible private housing have been ineffective.
  • A regulatory intervention is needed to introduce a mandatory minimum standard of accessibility for all private dwellings in Australia. An amendment of the National Construction Code (NCC) is the most viable way to introduce this standard.
  • The Australian Building Codes Board (ACBC) is undertaking a Regulatory Impact Assessment of options to introduce a minimum accessibility standard for housing in the NCC. The AHRC com has recommended that the ABCB be guided by Australia’s commitments under the CRPD in considering the minimum standard of accessibility for housing. Ongoing consultations should also be held with people with disability and their representative organisations.

The AHRC recommended that:

The Australian Government introduce a mandatory minimum standard of accessibility in the National Construction Code for all private dwellings in Australia.

Australian Civil Society Report (located here: https://aduhdblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/crpd-shadow-report-2019-english-pdf.pdf)

(The perspective of people with disability in relation to Australia’s compliance with its obligations under the CRPD). In summary:

  • There are no mandated national access requirements for housing.
  • The Livable Housing Design Guidelines provide aspirational targets for all new homes to be of an agreed livable housing design standard by 2020. It is estimated that only 5% of new housing construction will meet the standards by 2020.
  • Regulatory intervention through the National Construction Code is required to achieve change.

The Shadow report recommended that: Australia amend the National Construction Code to mandate minimum access features for all new and extensively modified housing.

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